sweet surprises

Yesterday we attended a backyard party celebrating the upcoming birth of a new baby girl, yet to be named. She has chosen for her parents the loveliest, most genuinely kind and full-of-love people I know. We were blessed to have been included in the lovely event, where friends and family gathered together to celebrate them and the new life they have lovingly created. Little did we know that what we had already considered to be the perfect day would be made utterly so by a surprise wedding, known ahead of time by only close family members and a few involved friends. The ceremony was gorgeous and touching and I couldn’t contain my tears of delight.

In token of my love for the beautiful couple and their sure-to-be surpassingly beautiful baby girl, I made these little booties. I love summer, and friends, and parties and surprises, and love itself… almost as much as I love baby feet.

Here’s to all those things.

I created these baby shoes using a pattern from Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones. It has tons of awesome baby stuff in it; my little guy has a several things made from patterns found inside. If you have or know babies that you’d like to sew for, you will get so much use from this great book.

amazing applesauce pancakes

All right, so first of all: I don’t like pancakes. I never have, even as a child. To me they’re just thick, doughy syrup sponges. Waffles and french toast, on the other hand, are be a totally different story, but the pancakes have just never done it for me. Until now.

My kids (like most normal people) love pancakes! I have made them for them from scratch at home for years, and they have always been happy with the results. However, we decided to put our son on a gluten-free diet a few weeks ago for some issues he has been experiencing (more about that to come at a later date), so here was a challenge for me to make some yummy gluten-free pancakes that he and I could eat and the rest of the family would enjoy as well.

The results were unanimous: BEST PANCAKES EVER. I hope you’ll agree.

Now, I avoid grains, and these do include brown rice flour, so if you’re paleo or otherwise grain intolerant, use a different grain-free, gluten-free flour in place of it. I just HAD to try these, though – I can’t go posting on a blog about something I haven’t experienced first-hand (!) – and the couple bites I had, without syrup or other topping, might I add, were just delicious. They’re a bit crispy at the edges, soft on the inside and really flavorful.  Gluten, dairy and egg free, of course.

INGREDIENTS

  • brown rice flour, 3/4 cup
  • sorghum flour, 3/4 cup
  • tapioca flour, 1/2 cup
  • baking powder, 4 teaspoons
  • cinnamon, 2 teaspoons
  • fine sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • coconut milk, 2 cups
  • coconut sugar, 2 tablespoons
  • vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon
  • organic unsweetened applesauce, generous 1/2 cup

METHOD

  1. Sift flours together into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add baking powder, cinnamon and salt to the flours, combining well.
  3. Add coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and applesauce to the dry ingredients and mix well, until creamy.
  4. Grease a skillet lightly with coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  5. Pour the batter onto the skillet and cook until the top of the pancake is bubbly all over and the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown as well.
  6. That’s it! You can eat these just as they are, or fancy them up with whatever pancake toppings you prefer.

xo

banana blueberry muffins

I have been craving muffins for quite some time – I can’t remember the last time I actually had one. Luckily I had just enough fresh blueberries and all these other ingredients in the kitchen the other morning to make them. They came out just right – moist and delicious. The kids loved having them for breakfast (um, so did I), and they kept well for about 2 days afterward.  These muffins are gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan.

This recipe makes 12 muffins.

INGREDIENTS

  • ripe bananas, 2
  • ground flax seed meal, 6 tablespoons
  • hot water, 2 tablespoons
  • coconut oil, 1/2 cup
  • vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon
  • lemon juice, 2 tablespoons
  • raw, organic, local honey, 1/4 cup
  • sorghum flour, 1 & 3/4 cup
  • tapioca flour, 1/4 cup
  • fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • baking powder, 2 teaspoons
  • fresh blueberries, about 1 & 1/2 cups
raw batter, ready for baking

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the hot water and the flax seed meal in a small bowl, and whisk until thick. Set aside.
  4. Add the coconut oil, vanilla, lemon juice, honey and flax mixture to the bananas, and mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl combine the flours, salt, cinnamon and baking powder, then add to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy.
  6. Carefully add the blueberries to the mixture.
  7. Grease your muffin pan lightly with a little coconut oil, then place the liners.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the cups in the pan.
  9. As an option, you can sprinkle a little coconut sugar on top of the muffins before baking them. This will give them a bit of a crunchy topping. I did this with half my batch.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Allow the muffins to fully cool on a wire rack.
just out of the oven

eat up

delicious (no, really) gluten-free, sugar-free vegan brownies

It’s hard to believe, I know. But trust me, these brownies are REALLY good. It’s all I can do not to make them every day for breakfast. The hints of coconut flavor are quite complimentary to the cacao.

They are totally free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and sugar. I’m no expert on the diet’s rules, but I believe they are Paleo friendly, too.

INGREDIENTS

  • ground flax seed meal, 3 tablespoons
  • filtered water, 9 tablespoons
  • coconut milk {unsweetened}, 1/2 cup
  • coconut oil, 1/2 cup
  • local raw organic honey, 2/3 cup
  • vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon
  • coconut flour, 3/4 cup + 1/8 cup
  • tapioca flour, 1/8 cup
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup
  • baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon
  • fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • 100% cacao bar, about 1.5 ounces, chopped
chopped cacao bar

chopped cacao bar

brownie batter, ready to bake

brownie batter, ready to bake

METHOD

  1. As a replacement to eggs, combine the flax seed meal and water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until very well combined. Set aside and allow the mixture to thicken for a few minutes. Stir with the fork again before adding to the batter.
  2. In a large bowl beat together the coconut milk, coconut oil (warmed), honey, vanilla and flax egg replacement.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and stir until well combined and creamy, then stir in the cacao bits.
  5. Grease an 8″ x  8″ square baking dish and spread the batter evenly into it.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool in the dish set on a cooling rack. Once the brownies have cooled you can cut them into pieces and remove from them from the dish.

growing new celery from an old base

I came across a picture someone had posted on Pinterest of how they had grown new celery from an old celery base, and I wanted to try it. I was stunned at how quickly the new celery began to grow. Here are the steps to follow if you want to re-grow your own celery. I wish I had known about this years ago!

STEP 1: Place your cut celery base into a small dish of warm water, and set on a sunny indoor windowsill.

day 1

STEP 2: Watch it grow!

The outer stalks will begin to decompose, and within a day or two you will notice new, green celery begin to emerge from the center. After only a few days you will have considerable new growth.

Be sure to keep the water clean and fresh, changing it every couple of days.

day 5

STEP 3: Plant the base.

When the new celery growth is a 2-3 inches high, it’s ready be moved from the windowsill dish into a container of soil.

day 12

Put the old celery base under the soil, and keep the new growth above, out of the soil. Keep the soil moist, watering when needed.

planted celery

I checked on my planted celery yesterday (it has been one month since I put this particular base into water), and it has grown a couple of inches since putting it into the soil. It will certainly be at least a few more weeks before the new celery is ready to harvest. I have a few of these growing now, all at various stages of development, so hopefully a time will come when we won’t need to go shopping for celery anymore (or at least as often).  In any case, this is fun!

I also learned that you can do the same thing with green onions – place the unused portion of the onion into a glass of water in a sunny window, and new onions will grow from the bulb. The roots will grow as well, and as soon as they’re long enough, you can transfer them to soil, too.

Here are shots of some onions I have been growing for about a 10 days. These little guys grow so fast – you can see in the closeup where I had cut them, and everything above is new.

Hooray for sustainability!

chewy gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies

These cookies are just the tiniest bit crispy at the edges, and still soft and chewy throughout. They are gluten free and are made with coconut sugar, so as afar as cookies go, I think you could consider these pretty healthy.

I made part of the batch without raisins, per the request of a sweet little girl in my house. Delicious either way.

INGREDIENTS

  • organic butter, softened, 1/2 cup {1 stick}
  • coconut sugar, 2/3 cup
  • vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
  • 1 free-range egg
  • sorghum flour, 1/2 + 1/8 cup
  • tapioca flour, 1/8 cup
  • baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon
  • salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon
  • gluten free rolled oats, 1 1/2 cup
  • raisins, 3/4 cup

METHOD

  • Beat together the butter, coconut sugar, vanilla and egg until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, add to the wet mixture and stir until well combined.
  • Mix in the oats and raisins.
  • Move the prepared batter to the refrigerator to chill for about a half hour. This will prevent the cookies from coming out too thin.
  • Scoop the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the edges are golden brown. The cookies will look undercooked in the middle, but that’s okay.
  • Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes after you have removed them from the oven, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

savory mixed kales salad

I eat kale almost every day in some form or another – it is one of my favorite leaves, and so good for you. Not only is it a great source of fiber, it is rich in calcium, magnesium, and many vitamins including beneficial antioxidants A, C and K. I like it cooked too, but fresh it is super crunchy and makes any salad yummy.

This salad is great the day it’s made, and makes really good left-overs for a couple days afterward if kept chilled.

INGREDIENTS

  • dino kale, one small bunch {about 4 leaves}
  • curly kale, one bunch {about 5 or 6 leaves
  • red onion, 1 meduim, chopped
  • fresh garlic, 3 cloves, pressed
  • sun-dried tomatoes, 3 ounces
  • daikon radish, 1 medium
  • capers, 3.5 ounce jar
  • raw sesame seeds, about 3 tablespoons
  • olive oil, about 4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon for sautéing
  • red wine vinegar, 3-4 tablespoons
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • fresh ground salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Chop the kales and mix together in a large bowl, then set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic just until tender. Put them into a small bowl and then in the refrigerator to cool.
  3. Bring about 2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the dried tomatoes. Let them soak in the water for about 10 minutes, then drain and chop them. Add them to the kales.
  4. Chop the daikon into 1/4 inch cubes, and add to the kale along with the capers (drained), sesame seeds, and once cool, the cooked onion and garlic.
  5. Dress the salad with the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. My measurements for these are approximations, so use them to your taste. A few sprinkles of cayenne pepper is nice too, but not required. Mix well to coat everything.
  6. Chill salad in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.

looks like we made it

On the first day of this month, my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. This in itself is an accomplishment, but my pride in it is magnified by the fact that we very nearly didn’t make it. I won’t go into all of the reasons why; suffice it to say that marriage is hard. It’s hard no matter what – and it’s harder still when you may have been too young when you married, may have became pregnant too soon afterward, then subsequently faced stresses and losses and inner demons you definitely didn’t know how to fight.

our wedding day, june 1, 2002

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason – I am acutely averse to the notion that life has been laid out for us, planned ahead of time by god or the cosmos, and that we must bear terrible things in order for blessings (known or unknown) to be handed out on the other side. I do, however, believe that good can come from almost anything, and that we can take lessons from our pain. None of us is immune to suffering, but we all deserve joy, and there are many ways by which it may be obtained. I found it by valuing the needs of my own soul, setting aside my want for acceptance in the eyes of others, and working hard for what I love the most.

Though I knew very little about what we were in for, I married Tracy because I loved him deeply. Ten years later my love for him and our family is exponentially deeper, truer, and full with knowledge, trust, comfort and courage.

silly self-portrait ~ the only picture of us together during our trip

We celebrated our anniversary by taking a trip to San Francisco, our first time getting away together since our honeymoon. It was lovely and I’ll treasure it always, holding the memory of it closer knowing that it almost didn’t happen – but together we made it so, and I am grateful.

san francisco at dusk, 2012

knitted scrunch scarf

I recently made this cute little scarf for Bella from a skein of soft green yarn she picked out at the craft store. It ended up being a great scarf for her to wear over the last couple of weeks, during which we have had some cooler days and even a little rain.

I adapted this pattern from Spud & Chloe, making it a little smaller overall, since it would be worn by a child. Bella wanted a button on it, so I added that as a final touch.

 

 

herb and orchard quinoa salad

This yummy summer salad will feed a LOT of people, I would say about 12 as a side dish. You can of course divide the recipe as appropriate.

INGREDIENTS

  • quinoa, 2 cups
  • red cabbage, chopped, 2 cups
  • fuji apples, 2 meduim
  • fresh mint leaves, chopped, about 1 cup
  • fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • lemon juice, 2 tablespoons
  • avocados, 2
  • raw pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup
  • apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup
  • olive oil, 1/3 cup
  • fresh ground salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Rinse quinoa and cook according to package directions. Usually for about 15 minutes with 4 cups of water.
  2. Cool quinoa in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. Combine the cabbage, apples, mint basil and lemon juice in a large bowl, then stir in the quinoa, seeds, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. You may want to add a bit more lemon juice, too.
  4. Return to the refrigerator, then directly before serving, cube and stir in the avocado.